Well, it’s official. No the series is not over and no, fans of the Boston Celtics still should not panic. The certified proclamation here is this: Dwight Howard is a dirty basketball player. There’s simply no way around it. Last night there were three plays off the top of my head that, thanks to Howard, resulted in a Celtics player hurting himself. In game four he brought Kendrick Perkins tumbling to the ground after the whistle had blown. The unnecessary physical “assistance” by Howard caused an infuriated Rajon Rondo to berate the referee standing two feet from the act. Before that he unnecessarily whipped his elbow into the back of Kevin Garnett’s head. The man is a menace, and today he stands as the least talented media created “superstar” that the NBA has ever seen.
Last night, as he drove into the paint and tossed up a patented floater, Rondo found his head being driven into the ground courtesy of an out of control Dwight Howard who figured breaking his fall should best be done with an opponent’s skull. Dirty play number one.
Later in the game, as Paul Pierce drove strong to the basket, Howard tenaciously defended his goal, denying Pierce a bucket, but sending him to the free throw line. It’s what any center is supposed to do in that situation, but Howard being who he is, felt the need to pull back on Pierce’s right arm after the play was clearly over, bending his oft injured shoulder in a most unnatural way. Pierce stayed on the floor for several minutes in obvious pain before sinking both free throws. A hard foul is a hard foul, but to extend contact with an opponent after the whistle blows is dirty.
The third play can be seen in any highlight you view of the game. It’s of Howard being blocked from behind, and in a feral state trying to regain possession, he slams his left elbow square into Glen Davis’ nose. The result? A concussion for Davis and no foul called on Howard. The play was likely unintentional, but it’s clear Dwight has a problem with his elbows. He swings them without fear of consequence, like a toddler who repeatedly breaks his parents’ dishes knowing he won’t be punished.
Ironically, Kendrick Perkins was ejected from this game for two of the most shoddy technical foul calls I can ever remember seeing in an NBA game. The latter of the two was the result of the Celtics center cleanly poking the ball away from Dwight Howard and getting called for a personal foul. Instead of approaching the referee with expletives flying out his mouth and arms flailed trying to plead his case, the irritated Perkins walked away from the referee. Perkins was ejected before halftime and the Celtics defensive strategy took a major hit.
No T-Mobile, Gatorade, or Adidas ad should sway public opinion differently. He has 0 moves with his back to the basket, every rebound results in a deliberate elbow and when the going gets tough, Dwight Howard folds. Is he an incredible physical specimen who was blessed with a body tailor fit to play center in the NBA? Of course. Is he the most feared roaming big man in basketball? Yes (although Kendrick Perkins is a better low post defender).
Friday night is as “must win” a game as can be without directly facing elimination for the Boston Celtics. They must treat it like a Game Seven and close Orlando out, or indeed, people around here will head for the hills.